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CC Habgood 'being scrutinised by Home Office' over pay reform delays, says Hurd

NPCC has been warned work is unlikely to be finished on time.
Published - 21/09/2018 By - JJ Hutber- Police Oracle

Plans to revamp pay structures and link salaries to officers’ skills have “taken longer than anyone would have wanted” the Policing Minister said.

In July the Police Remueration Review Body (PRRB) criticised the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) for failing to demonstrate any vision or provide leadership in its work on pay reform in a report released this week.

Chairman David Lebrecht said despite the fact this was the fourth time the body has addressed the issue, it has made no progress.

The Home Office should step in and help drive forwards the work, he said.

Former Police Federation chairman Calum Macleod also complained about a lack of detail on the plans last year.

When asked whether the Home Office has intervened as suggested Policing Minister Nick Hurd said:  “I’ve had at least three meetings with Frances Habgood [the chief constable leading on the plan].

"Each meeting has been a set of questions around progress you’ve made, what’s the timelines, have you got the capacity you need to take this work forward and the speed that is required?

“There’s a lot of concern and frustration and a need to engage with the frontline and superintendents and all the parts of the ecosystem to get people comfortable with it.”  

He added: “It’s taken longer than I think anyone wanted.

“It’s a complicated piece of work but I think Frances Habgood would be the first to say he’s being scrutinised by the Home Office.

“I think it’s taken longer than anyone wanted and it needs to be brought to a conclusion quickly and there needs to be proper engagement with all parts of the police system to get people comfortable with what’s being proposed.”  

The PRRB report also raised concerns about a lack of progress on proposals to introduce hard-to-fill job bonuses.

They were originally intended to be a temporary measure until the conclusion of pay reform in 2020, but work was proceeding so slowly the body wondered if the bonuses remained a “sensible option”.

Earlier this month Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced he will approve the salary bonuses, backdated to September 2017.

Mr Hurd also spoke to Police Oracle about the police watchdog’s first year in its new incarnation, saying he’s hopeful the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) can play a  “fundamental role in shifting the culture in policing away from blame to learning from mistakes”.

“We want our policing system to be one that learns from mistakes rather than circles the wagon when things go wrong and start the blame game. That’s not how you improve.”

IOPC director general Michael Lockwood has worked closely with Mr Hurd before, site managing the Grenfell recovery and as chief executive of Harrow council, one of Mr Hurd’s constituency local authorities.

“I know him well so I also know he is one the right person for the job,” Mr Hurd said.

“He’s very sincere about reforming the origination so that they focus on reviewing cases that really merit review and doing that quicker."

Mr Lockwood is “determined” to speed up the investigation so fewer officers experience “unacceptable” delays in their case, he said.  

But Mr Hurd said he did not personally support imposing time limits on misconduct investigations

“I think you need to be careful about artificial time limits,” he said.

“I think investigators need to take the time they need to do the job.

“What I am supportive of is good transparency and accountability around the length of time investigations take and also greater recognition of the point that Michael is making which is sometimes it’s not the IOPC’s fault for some of the delays.

“I think there are bits of the police system, the legal system, that have their part to play in helping investigations close in a timely manner need to step up as well.”  

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